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Ants, bees, wasps and everything nice

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010 | Ants, Science, Uncategorized | Comments Off

The 7th International Congress of Hymenopterists will be held this year in K√∂szeg, Hungary, on June 20th to 26th. This meeting is organized by the International Society of Hymenopterists, which meets every four years to bring together the people doing research on sawflies, wasps, bees and ants around the globe. I’ll say these meetings are generally more heavily oriented towards systematic and ecological type of studies (is there anything else to know about?).

Now, the fact that the registration fee includes ethanol and ethyl acetate (for preserving the locally collected fauna) should tell you something about the level of geekiness of the crown that normally attends these meetings. But, it’s professional geekiness mind you.

You can find more information here (pdf).

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More on the insect cabinet on display at the AMNH

Friday, January 1st, 2010 | History of Science, Personalities, Uncategorized | Comments Off

I previously wrote about a beautiful insect cabinet currently on display at the American Museum of Natural History thought to belong to naturalists Alfred Russell Wallace. I also noted that George Beccaloni, from the the Natural History Museum in London, holds that the cabinet may not be Wallace’s on account of some pieces of evidence, including the differences in shape between the labels of the AMNH cabinet and that of known Wallace’s specimens at the NHM.

Now Beccaloni provides further evidence to back his opinion in the form of a letter written by Wallace to Walter Bates in 1846. Read for yourself and decide.

Oh, and a happy new year to all the readers of this blog!

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Bigger is better: the largest phylogenetic tree reconstructed.

ResearchBlogging.orgGenBank, the standard database for genetic information maintained by National Center for Biotechnology Information, has been accumulating DNA sequences for some three decades now. Since its creation in the late 1980s, it has become the de facto repository for genetic information– genetic data must now be submitted to GenBank for a paper to be accepted for publication. Most sequence data accumulated are the result of the sum of many “local” taxonomic studies that have targeted a particular group of organism for a relatively small, but well-known collection of genes. It contents now span over hundreds of genes across all of life’s domains. So, what would happen if you were to take all the sequence information contained in GenBank and analyze it phylogenetically all together in a single, one-step study? Well, that is what Pablo A. Goloboff and coworkers just did, the results of which were published in last week’s online early edition of Cladistics, the international journal of the Willi Hennig Society.

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And as we discussed last semester, the Army Ants will leave nothing but your bones.
- Tom Waits

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